It's that time of year again when most of us take a moment to reflect on what we've achieved in the last year and set some new (or old as the case may be) goals for the new year. I had a great 2014 as far as habit building, but 2015 lost traction and slipped a lot. It'll take a ton of effort to get my momentum back in 2016, but I know I have it in me since I've done it before.
Regular exercise isn't something I felt I needed as a young person, but I've been trying to develop the habit as I approach middle age. My goal for 2015 was to exercise at least a little every day just to maintain a habit of doing so, because it takes less willpower to exercise more if you're already doing it. I did very well for the first 7 1/2 months with only 1 day missed. Then I went out of town for a week, didn't exercise at all, and became Lazy Me again. I could count on one hand the number of times I exercised in the last 4 1/2 months of the year, and I can feel the impact it's had on my body. Maybe this is what "almost 40" should feel like, but I'm making it a priority to develop the exercise habit in 2016.
I started 2015 where I wanted to be in regards to my reading habit, but it fell apart in February. The second book I started for the year was so downright boring that it turned me off to reading in general—yet I pressured myself to finish it anyway. I kept telling myself that I should finish what I started, but a better approach would be to accept that I didn't like the book and start something else instead. This particular book gets high praise from the security community, so I'll skim the rest and finish it within the first week of 2016. Then I can resume my goal of reading one book per month.
Open source benefits everyone, but it's had a tremendous impact on my life (as is true for most IT professionals). I've given back in various ways over the years, but it's always been in small and/or fleeting doses. I decided to make a point of changing that in 2015. My specific goal was to contribute to or create at least one open source app. I'm really proud of sticking to this one even though it consumed much of my free time and took longer than I expected. I made a small contribution to the FreeBSD ports project, which I'm happy about even though it won't likely matter in the long run (it seems the particular port is dying due to lack of maintenance). Prism accepted my Command Line plugin and I've submitted 4 more smaller PRs to the project so far. Last but not least, I released 3 projects of my own centered around the Core Web Application Libraries for PHP. I have no other open source projects in mind, but I'm sure I'll make some improvements to these in 2016. I intend to leverage the CWA libraries to create sites for a few relatives/friends next year as well.
I finally launched this site on the last day of 2014 and set a goal of posting 2 blog entries per month. I stayed on track for the first few months of 2015, but then got spread too thin with work and other projects. This is my 10th post for the year, so I'm far short of meeting that goal. Much of the delay was due to my lack of certainty in the site's domain name. Once I decided on a new domain, it took a while to migrate to it. Between the effort needed for that and the changes I made in preparation to release the source code, I just didn't have as much time to write as I'd hoped. Looking back, I realize 2 posts per month was too aggressive of a goal. Given the effort involved in writing a technical post and all the other responsibilities on my plate, one post per month is a more reasonable target for 2016. In fact, I may write even fewer blog entries next year since I also need to produce documentation for the Core Web Application projects.
Of course, I'm dissatisfied with the decline in my exercise and reading habits. There are other items I'm carrying into the new year that I regret not having resolved, too. It wasn't all downhill in 2015, though. Besides the successes listed above, I made progress in other areas. I take great interest in personal finance. While I don't publicly share my personal finance goals, I did accomplish all 6 of them for 2015. I accepted a new job with a small raise. I finally had my wisdom teeth removed, which may seem like no big deal to most people but not for someone who's been putting it off for 20 years. Getting that off my shoulders is a big win for me. Similarly, having replaced a car we've had for 9 years with one that shouldn't need repairs for quite some time will reduce the stress my life. Here's to the wins of 2015 and whatever 2016 has to offer!